A Commitment to Safety: Inside MSR’s World-Renowned Water Research Lab

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Lab supervisor Zac Gleason enumerates how many viruses are alive in a water sample.

Lab supervisor Zac Gleason enumerates how many viruses are alive in a water sample.

Behind every MSR water treatment and hydration product is a team of scientists dedicated to researching, developing and testing the latest in water treatment solutions. Established in 1997, our on-site microbiology lab is crucial to MSR’s water program and the safety and reliability of our products. Initially founded to ensure quality control, today the lab’s world-renowned efforts stretch into research of new technologies, testing and development for the U.S. military, and contracts with nonprofit organizations working in developing nations.

The lab is located at our Seattle headquarters, in close proximity to our production lines, and is staffed by seven scientists with advanced degrees in chemical engineering, biochemistry, microbiology, environmental science and cellular and molecular biology. The world inside this small space is fascinating, with an incredible amount of scientific knowledge. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look inside.  Read More →

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MSR Staff Picks: 5 Fast-and-Light Pieces

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This one is for the ounce-counters, minimalists and ultralight packers. We asked five MSR employees which pieces of gear they pack when the objective is to go farther—faster. These pieces represent some of our smallest, lightest and smartest products for minimizing weight without sacrificing reliability on high-adventure journeys. Read More →

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The Lunchroom: An Interview with Chris Parkhurst, MSR Vice President

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So what does one do as the VP of MSR?

Herd cats.

No, really, it’s about providing structure and guidance. We have a very talented team and my job is to make a platform for everyone to be successful. On the MSR team you have a really nice balance of engineering geeks, pure users and people who like to tinker. And you have very diverse backgrounds. They all have interesting perspectives of how a product should work. You get some hardcore engineering expertise and hardcore user knowledge, and I think when that comes together it can be pretty cool.

How did you get your start in the outdoor industry?

I got my start with K2 snowboarding. I joined them when they’d just started doing some sourcing overseas, so I did a lot of sourcing of snowboard boots and apparel. Then I was eventually national sales manager, then brand director. That was ‘97-2005. It was a great time to be in the winter sports industry—lots of energy, growth, and a desire to push the limits.

What drew you to MSR?

The history of the brand and what it stood for. It’s incredibly cool that you had an individual [Larry Penberthy] whose whole purpose was testing gear; his intent wasn’t even to manufacture gear at the time in 1969. He just wanted to improve the safety of others in the alpine climbing community, and what spawned from that was this notion of: I know what’s wrong, I know how to fix it and I’m going to create a better solution. To this day, these values are ingrained in MSR. Read More →

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The Lunchroom: An Interview with Terry Breaux, MSR Product Manager, Shelter

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By Ryan Hayter

The Lunch Room (TLR): Shelter is a basic need for mankind. What exactly do you do?

Terry Breaux (TB): I design tents. It’s not just about stopping the rain from getting in or about deflecting cold weather. It’s more about how you feel when you’re in the space – the livability. How easy is it to get in? How do you function inside? Is the natural lighting plentiful and pleasant? Does it make you comfortable? All of this goes into the design process. For four season tents you’re looking for security and strength while three-season backpacking tents need to be airy and light. Every design is different.

TLR: You’re probably one of a handful of tent designers in the world. How did you get into it?

TB: I went through the architectural program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I like the design training that they give to architects. You can design anything from a teacup to a skyscraper. I knew I wanted to do product design from an architectural standpoint. One of the visiting professors in our program went to work for Moss tents in Maine. The work they were doing with tents impressed me so, midway through the program, I took 2 years off to work for Moss before coming back to graduate. Read More →

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Easy Appetizers for the Exhausted

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Story and Photos by Laurel Miller

American gastronomy has been responsible for some memorably mediocre finger foods (or canapés, hors d’ouevres, or appetizers, if you’re so inclined). Despite this, we’re all familiar with the ubiquitous cheese ball, spinach dip (served in a hollowed out loaf of sourdough) pigs in a blanket, and, if you’re of a certain age, rumaki.

Having inhaled my share of spinach dip in this life, I’m not trying to be an asshole. But it is possible, even in the backcountry, to create starters that are easy, on-trend, and free of processed ingredients. The point of appetizers, as the name suggests, is to stimulate the appetite. Providing a balance of flavors and textures is the key to making them work, as are good-quality ingredients (which don’t require much in the way of prep to make an impact). Read More →

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The Sprinter Experience: Living in a Van Down by the River…er Crag

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“Sarge,” our sprinter van, lures in curious parties wherever we go—Adam Ondra gets pumped checking it out!

Photos and Story By Ben Kunz

When Daimler Benz merged with Chrysler way back in 1998, it wasn’t even a blip on my radar, nothing that I needed to worry or care about! But within a year, I started seeing the Sprinter Van, Mercedes gift to North American mid-sized cargo carriers. When I first saw this hardcore Euro-styled van, I did some research and quickly did the math on these genius homes on wheels. Read More →

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MSR Backcountry Cafe: Recipe for Chunky Pesto Tortellini

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Ingredients_Photo by Ben Kunz

Photos and Story by Lindsey Kunz

This delectable pasta dish is guaranteed to make your friends and fellow campers drool! It’s a rich backcountry recovery meal, well suited to keep you fueled for another epic day in the mountains, be it ski touring, mountaineering, or alpine climbing. One pot is all you need.

Servings: 2, plus leftovers for second dinner or next-day’s lunch

Read More →

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Testing the MSR Reactor with Randy the Stove Czar

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Randy the MSR Stove Czar demonstrates the advantages of the Reactor stove system. If you don’t find Randy believable, check out the test results below…


Reactor 1.7 L Chart

We engineered the MSR Reactor Stove System to be the fastest, most efficient stove system ever made, and the only one offering true performance in real-world conditions. For anyone primarily cooking simple meals and melting snow, the Reactor is, by far, the fastest and most fuel efficient stove available. For alpine climbers, mountaineers and anyone who requires their stove to operate reliably in challenging conditions, there is simply no better option.

This chart shows the difference a Reactor Stove System can make in real-world backcountry conditions. If you’re serious about saving pack weight, take a close look at the fuel column on the right. The Reactor Stove System’s real-world efficiency can make a serious reduction in the amount of fuel you carry into the field.

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MSR Backcountry Café: French Press Coffee

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MSR French Press

A French press can produce rich, strong coffee that will supercharge your day in the backcountry. Collapsible presses allow you to use your cooking pot for a brewing vessel, saving weight and space in your pack. Best of all, good French press coffee is simple: get the grind and water temperature correct and you’re likely to have a great cup, or three.

The Coffee: You’ll need about one ounce of coffee per finished cup. It should be course-ground and stored in an air-tight container. With French Press coffee, an even grind is important – use a burr grinder rather than the blade type. Normal drip coffee will work if you can’t find the proper grind; our presses are designed to work with generic drip grounds too.

The Water: Backcountry water makes great coffee! Use clear, filtered water from a stream or lake. Make sure it is free of tannins and other natural flavors that can taint your finished cup.

  • Start heating your water in the pot. Use a little more than one liter of water to make three cups of coffee. If it’s cold, add a little extra for warming the cups.
  • Measure around 4.5 tablespoons of ground coffee and set it aside.
  • Take the water off just before it reaches boiling. This stage is often called “fish eyes” because of the small bubbles forming at the bottom of the pot.
  • If it’s cold out, pour a little hot water into your coffee cup to warm it before the brewing process. Dump this water before you serve the finished coffee.
  • Stir the coffee grounds into the hot water. Use a long spoon that reaches near the bottom of the pot.
  • Cover the pot with the press and lid. Allow the coffee to steep for a minimum of four minutes. If you’re camping in cold weather, use a fleece jacket or towel to insulate the press while it steeps. (Be careful not to melt synthetics on the hot pot!)
  • Press the coffee and pour it in your cups. Don’t leave excess coffee sitting in the press for too long, it will quickly become bitter.

MSR French Press

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